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MNHS Supports Distance Learning with Free Online Access to Its Minnesota History Textbook

Students, teachers and anyone interested in history can learn about the unique stories of Minnesota with the 'Northern Lights' Interactive eBook


To help Minnesotans currently engaging in distance learning during COVID-19, MNHS has made its award-winning "Northern Lights" Interactive eBook free for all. Featuring 20 chapters exploring the diverse stories of our state, the e-book will be available free of charge through the end of the school year.

Published since 1989, the most recent edition of "Northern Lights" is available in print and e-book versions and is used by 85 percent of Minnesota 6th graders to meet state social studies requirements. Previously some districts only used the print textbook, but now all students, teachers and anyone interested in Minnesota history can explore the e-book for free.

Available online at or via iPad app (search "MNHS Education" in the app store), the e-book offers a variety of educational tools, including videos, audio narration, interactive maps, additional primary sources and more. After logging into the ebook (universal sign-in info is username: history, password: history), users can learn about everything from Native peoples to women's suffrage to immigration in Minnesota.

Teachers can also request free access to the Annotated Teacher's Edition of the textbook, containing additional content and activity suggestions. While "Northern Lights" was written for 6th grade students and teachers, it can be used by anyone to learn more about state history. Parents will find a variety of stories, videos, activities and more to engage children of all ages at home.

MNHS staff recently rolled out these changes to educators, and teachers around the state have been very supportive of the decision:

"The fact that we have such an amazing curriculum-and that students have access to it with their devices-has been so helpful as I try to wrap my head around possibly long-term e-learning." –Sauk Rapids-Rice Public Schools teacher

"Since our school has not transitioned to the e-book, I was struggling because some of my students have to share a book. But this has taken all of the stress away from this one issue, which helps tremendously." –Medford Public School teacher

"MNHS has my utmost gratitude for this. I'm not sure you can understand how much easier this makes my job as one of the most rural school districts in the state." –Cook County Schools teacher

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota's past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state's stories and connects people with history. Visit us at

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partner: Explore Minnesota Tourism.


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